09.15.15 – Cowbells and the Crimson Tide


Cowbells and the Crimson Tide; Guarding our Hearts from the Sports God

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” – Exodus 20:3-4

In the fall of 2010, Sarah and I attended the Alabama vs. Mississippi State football game. We enjoyed the cheers of the crowd, the ballpark food, the marching bands, and the overall competitive nature of the game. We enjoyed sitting on hard metal bleacher seats huddled together as a continual autumn breeze blew across our faces. We enjoyed the collegiate traditions, such as the ringing of the Mississippi State cowbells and all the hounds-tooth patterns checkered throughout the crimson crowd. To top off the experience, our team won! Roll Tide!

Yet with all that said, there were also some things we observed that were quite disturbing. For instance, some of the tailgate parties I saw in the parking lot are etched upon my memory. Nothing is wrong with tailgating in itself, but some of the things were just a little over the top. In one case, I saw a truck with a trailer hitched on the back. This trailer had been handcrafted for the sole purpose of tailgating. Built into the side of the trailer was an accordion style lift door. On the other side of the door was a massive, built-in, plasma screen T.V. The other side of this trailer had compartments for food and drink. Someone had put a lot of thought into designing such a custom made trailer.

Also, just before the game started, we went to a convenience store located on the college campus, just about three-hundred yards or so from the stadium.  As we were checking out at the register, I noticed foam drink holders for sale that read “Go to H____ Auburn.” I could not believe it; the brazenness of such a product! It was very disturbing to me to know that someone would have the audacity to damn a group of people to Hell, and then repulsively print it on a cup holder.

As we got to our seats just before game time, I noticed a certain fan sitting nearby. As the game progressed it became increasing apparent that this fan lived and breathed football. Throughout the game, he was an emotional roller-coaster. One moment, he might be excited and joyous, while the next moment he might be frustrated or furious. Throughout portions of the game (depending on what was happening out on the field) he would express occasional expletives. During the timeouts, he would use his phone to feverishly look up the scores of other ballgames. As he did so, you could faintly hear him muttering under his breath about his approval or disapproval in the outcome of certain scores. And you talk about a guy with tunnel vision! There were times that he seemed so hypnotized by the game, that I believe a freight train could passed right by him and he would not have even noticed. This man’s purpose in life was college football.

When does a hobby or an interest like sports become a “god?” It does not have to be a sport. It could be anything.  But anything in your life that is more important to you than your relationship with God has become a “god.”  If this is the case, you need to repent and dethrone whatever that thing might be, and honor God by giving God His rightful position of authority in your heart. One other thought; why do Christians not get excited and obsessed about Jesus as they do sports?  It is probably because many Christians have bought into the lie that their faith in God should be expressed in moderation. There seems to be a fear that someone might be labeled a Jesus freak. But I saw a lot of freaks of a different sort at the football game, and they were certainly not concerned what others around them thought. With this comparison in mind, why are so many Christians afraid to boldly and radically express zeal for God?  Let us ponder these things with an unwavering allegiance to Christ and a passion for His glory to be revealed throughout the world!

 – Pastor Eric


18 thoughts on “09.15.15 – Cowbells and the Crimson Tide

  1. Sports are such a huge part of American culture. College football is especially dominate in the south with the SEC being such a competitive conference. Its so easy to get caught up in the passions of the game as an athlete and a fan. But it’s also easy to fall into more subtle idols such as popularity or material objects or even things such as grudges or relationships. It’s not always the obvious temptations that consume us.

  2. I think the main reason people don’t want to express Jesus is that they just want to blend in with the world. If we take a stand for God and throw off our idols, we are actively countering culture and drawing attention and potential criticism to ourselves. The only way we can overcome this is to be like that Alabama fan and stop caring about what others think of us.

  3. I think it is very easy to put other things before God such as sports or other materialistic things,but we need to always try to put God first in everything we do and always give him the glory.

  4. Oh wow, Mr. Martin! I agree with you completely, but I’m not going to lie… That person is me in some way when I watch football or when I’m at the actual game. I find myself getting happy and excited when we are winning. On the other hand not so much happiness when we are losing, but what I noticed while I was reading this message is I should get fired up for God when I read His word the way I do on college game day or whether it’s on NFL Sunday. So thank you Mr. Martin I really needed this!

  5. I tend to find myself putting things before God a lot. Its embarrassing to admit, but sometimes acceptance or relationships seem more important to me. I care too much about what people think of me which is why I sometimes don’t show as much excitement about Jesus as I should. I think we all just need to ask God to forgive us for putting worldly things before Him and ask Him for strength and confidence to choose Him always and be unashamed of our love for Him.

  6. I think the reason we don’t get as excited about Jesus as we do football or other sports is because it’s not the “cool” thing to do. God rarely comes up in conversation now a days but one of the first things we usually ask someone is “Are you an Alabama or Auburn fan?”. I just think a lot of people even christians are to consumed of what the world thinks of them and they want everyone to like them so they shy away from talking about God with new people they meet because they are afraid they will get labeled.

  7. I think we as people put sports are phone and different things before God. We look at the worldly things around us to bring us pleasure , when really we should put God first in our lives.

  8. It’s insane how often I see this type of living. I think a lot of people are afraid of expressing themselves like this about Christ because they believe Christianity isn’t meant to be total and absolute obsession and to be completely focused on it which is a terrible way of thinking. Christianity isn’t just a religion, but a lifestyle and many people can’t accept that fact.

  9. This type of sin is something that can really slip under your radar(at least for me). Take a bad habit for example and at first you don’t invest alot of time in it but later it gets harder to break, and then evenually it can become an idol in your life or it can drag you down and make you into a worse person.The way I see it, is that God always has our best interest in mind so don’t look at it like I have to stop Idolizing something because I’m being told to. Do it for you, so you can become a better person and something more and continue to grow in several things such as your walk with God, knowledge, experience, and wisdom.

  10. I love college football, and often times I find myself putting it before God. I think it is really easy to get caught up in a football game and forget that it is just a football game. I get very caught up in the moment and want my team to win and that is not how God wants it to be. In many cases, I have put my phone before God. I will check social media when I am supposed to be having my devotion or answer text messages I know could wait. As a teenager I feel like we are very attached to our phones and as hard as it is to admit I do idolize and often times put my phone before God.

  11. So many people tend to take the love of a certain sports team to an almost idol like level of appreciation or even worship. While I personally have never understood the love or passion for football does not mean I don’t understand what it means to put something before God. So many of us do it without meaning to, by watching sports, checking their phones, or even something silly like sleeping before spending time alone with God. It is very important to realize that nothing deserves the attention God does. He deserves so much more worship and attention then we can fathom, much less offer, and we need to realize that befor the world becomes too important.

  12. It is far to easy for us to let things take priority over God in our lives. We seem to do everything but spend time with God just because it is easy for us. We all need to make sure we put God at the top of our lists and spend time with him 1st.

  13. In the South we eat, sleep, and breathe college football. For most of us one of our first outfits was probably a collegiate one. Imagine if we treated the Bible in the same way. More people should take a reality check and get their priorities straight. God deserves our undivided attention over some silly game on the gridiron.

  14. I feel like many people seek immediate gratification in their search for pleasure, and here in the South, it’s given by football. People feel like since they can’t immediately be given the rush like they get from football when they worship God, it’s easier for them to just put it off. People need to remember that God is an amazing and powerful God, and we should get excited for Him everyday.

  15. Many times in our lives we make idols of things. Here in the south we love our football and if we cant watch the game then we seemingly have nothing to do. However if we would spend some time towards God, then we would realize that we could actually be better people. We must love and worships Him.

    • I struggle with this every day. Not only football but many other things. These things are so easy to obsess without even knowing that we are making it a God. I also struggle with not being excited about God. I think we need to be encouraging to other believers so that talking about God is not such an awkward or rare thing.

  16. i have a hard time with this just like Sam said. I think that we get so caught up in our own lives. That we miss the big picture that God gave us everything we know. and to look at evyrthing and just say God I love u.

  17. I struggle with putting other things before God because idols seem to require less work than pursuing a relationship with God. However God is perfect and gave us salvation and is therefore deserving of our undivided attention and praise.

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